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Greek to Me: 8 Things I Wish I’d Known Starting God of War

Updated on July 14, 2018
Bradley Robbins profile image

Bradley Robbins is a tech, trade, and travel writer with a lifetime of experience with North America, Europe, and Japan.

The reviews are in, and God of War may just have what it takes to make the list as a top contender for game of the year. Nearing the end of the battle through my God-of-War difficulty God of War playthrough has seen me grapple, sometimes literally, with the game’s more interesting elements. You can’t just button mash to win on any difficulty beyond the lowest, but this setting definitely ramps things up a notch. Especially that one fight, you know, with the thing. It used to be a dwarf? No? Well, here’s eight things I wish I’d known starting God of War.

Shield and Axe at the Ready

The in-game tutorials do a great job of teaching you to use your shield and throw your axe. Once they’re gone, it’s easy to simply button-mash quick and heavy attacks to win a great many of the fights of the game. Doing this, however, robs you of the muscle memory you need to prevail against bosses and more difficult challenges. Learn to block incoming attacks with the shield and lash out after accordingly. A smart riposte is usually as damaging as a short combo (and far more survivable).

Don’t forget to retrieve your axe after each throw. You can score bonus damage on the return if it passes through enemies, and you don’t want to accidentally melee werewolves. You do that on purpose. It seems that almost everything has a pattern to its attacks, and some of the later enemies have some very interesting mechanics and combat styles that make your blade-and-board techniques really shine.

Explore Everything

Every nook and cranny in the lovingly crafted world has something for exploration-happy players. Take advantage of this by exploring all that God of War has to offer. While it’s entirely possible to beat the game without engaging in too many sidequests or optional boss fights, you rob yourself of a big part of what makes this title worthy of game-of-the-year consideration. Similarly, take the time to listen to what the NPCs have to say. One of them, the one always at your side, provides crucial plot elements as well as the occasional bit of in-game advice. Even if he can be a jerk.

Inventory Management Is Crucial

Your inventory can start to pile up pretty quickly when you explore all that the game has available, but smart management and a few tips can go a long way. Sell your collectibles. Sell your old gear. Sell anything that you won’t use. Hacksilver is fairly rare and imminently valuable, and you’ll need plenty of it as you play through the game. The game tracks all the collectibles you pick up, making them valuable only for trading for currency and upgrades as you progress. They adorn the shelves at the shops you visit, too.

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Shootyboi and the School of Angst

Your flame-headed sidekick isn’t just there to open doors, drop chains and squeeze into narrow passageways. The angst-ridden kid can also be one of the greatest assets in your fighting arsenal, if you play him right. To be honest, two of the lessons learned majoring in angst are valuable for God of War gamers: thinking outside the box and making the most of your resources.

Majoring in angst means training up those bow skills, getting the combo abilities for Atreus, and putting him to work for you. His bow abilities can quickly put down those low-HP, high-agility enemies that can drive Kratos fans nuts. Let the kid pick off those squishy targets and focus the big guy on interrupting heals and tackling the tougher challenges.

Once you get the hang of using the bow abilities, a world of possibilities opens for your playstyle. Know your endgame, they say in the school of angst, and these success strategies are paramount whether you’re preparing for college finals or the final set of hidden bosses in Midgard.

Luck Will Win the Day

All of the stats seem pretty obvious, but luck may appear to be a “dump stat” for many players. It’s easy to see how the other stats make you stronger and healthier or pour on the damage. Luck might seem a skip, until you get perk gear. Ramping up the stat early on allows you to level both your abilities and your income quickly, and the activation of perks on gear can make a real difference in the end game. This is doubly true if you’re a completionist who wants to down every side quest and boss. That extra XP and the perk bonuses can and will turn the tide of a great many battles.

Only Level What You Use

Managing your inventory and stats will take you far, but if you invest your gains improperly, you could quickly outgrow gear that cost you everything. Level those items and abilities you plan to use in the long-term. You can round out any shortcomings as you go, but investing heavily in starting gear makes grinding for later upgrades a bit more tedious. Focus on spending resources in areas where you are strongest. If you prefer to hang back, using a bow-and-throw ranged playstyle, focus on these elements. If you want to go toe-to-toe while Atreus handles the crowd control, keep that in mind when you allocate points and hacksilver.

Keep a Finger on the Quick-Turn Button

So … I played through well over half the game without realizing there was a quick-turn button, cursing the slow turn and camera angles. The default for quick turns is down on the directional pad, and keeping it at the ready will transform your game. Quick turns are as invaluable as your shield and axe, especially when you tackle faster enemies and teleporters. There may have been a popup tutorial somewhere on quick turns, but I missed it. Don’t make the same mistake. Learn to love the quick turn.

Interface For the Win

The highly customizable interface of God of War lets you put your own take on how the game looks and feels. That might not seem a big deal, but how many action titles give you this level of control over everything from enemy health bars to when and how the compass appears. Go ahead and turn everything off for some scenic screencaps, or put it all back on so you know when that witch is casting a homing poison in your direction. I’ve never been a fan of “follow the magic arrow,” so hiding the compass was a great addition for me.

There’s your set of eight tips for the fastest-selling PS4 exclusive of all time. As I near the end of my playthrough, I find myself constantly returning to and tweaking these elements for my own style. Full disclosure, I never beat the original game. Too many quick-time events for my taste. The new version leaves me wanting more (and more than a little sad that we’ll have to wait for a new game instead of getting DLC with this one).

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